(Tokyo) Tokyo 2020 officials will meet to discuss their response to the sexual comments made by the head of the organizing committee last week, which prompted hundreds of volunteers to resign, media reported Tuesday.
The remarks of Yoshiro Mori, 83, who has been prone to squabbling around overly talking women in meetings, sparked outrage in Japan and beyond.
The former Japanese prime minister apologized, Thursday, but ruled out resigning, and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) supported him, saying that the case is closed.
Japan’s Tokyo Games 2020 organizing committee plans to meet later this week, possibly Friday, to discuss its response, with calls for Mr Mori’s resignation mounting, Japan’s Kyodo News and private TV channel FNN reported, Japan News Agency reported Tuesday.
The organizing committee said that about 390 volunteers in the Olympic and Paralympic Games, out of 80,000 people who were recruited in total, decided to resign, adding that this number includes withdrawals for all kinds of reasons.
The commission received nearly 4,000 complaints about the Tokyo 2020 president’s remarks, and two people withdrew from the Olympic torch relay, according to Kyodo.
Mr Morey apologized on Thursday at a press conference in which he appeared on the defensive, saying he wanted to withdraw his comments while embarrassingly making it clear that he hadn’t spoken “much with women lately.”
An online petition collected more than 140,000 signatures, and Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka said Yoshiro Mori’s comments were “ignorant”.
Government spokesman Katsunobu Kato said on Tuesday that Olympic organizers should try to persuade volunteers to return.
“It is important for the organizing committee to provide an accurate explanation to the volunteers,” he said, after Tokyo 2020 issued a statement citing Mr. Mori’s apology and affirming his commitment to gender equality and diversity.
The ruling party heavyweight Toshihiro Nikai reportedly said on Monday that the volunteers “will change their minds when things calm down”, sparking angry shouts online.
“If they really want to resign, we will have to recruit new people,” the Asahi newspaper quoted Nikai as saying.
Some Olympic sponsors have expressed disappointment with the organizers over the controversy, and some companies have told the organizers that they have received complaints and threats to boycott, the Mainichi Daily reported, citing unidentified sources.
“We would like to refrain from appearing with President Morey” to promote the products, the newspaper quoted a company official as saying.